Barcelona’s unbeaten start to the La Liga season has come to an end and the Blaugrana are no longer top of the table thanks to a 3-1 loss in El Clásico against Real Madrid. Barça once again started well but quickly collapsed at the back once their opponent scored, and Madrid had a pretty comfortable afternoon against a Barça team low on confidence and not getting a lot of help from their coach right now.
Barça made a solid start to the game, dominating possession and attacking quickly between the lines, and Raphinha forced a good save from Andriy Lunin in the first 10 minutes.
But Karim Benzema scored right after, being first to the rebound from a Vinicius shot that was saved by Marc-André ter Stegen on a counter-attack that was started by Sergio Busquets’ inability to foul Toni Kroos in midfield.
Barça responded well to going behind and had several good moments in attack, and their best chance came when Robert Lewandowski missed an easy tap-in at the far post that would have made 1-1 midway through the period.
The Blaugrana continued to attack while Madrid were content to defend very deep and try to score a second on the counter, and that’s exactly how they got their second goal: Eric García made a poor mistake at the back which ignited a quick offensive move by the hosts, and Fede Valverde fired a rocket from outside the box to make it 2-0.
At halftime, Barça were playing well enough but couldn’t convert their chances while Madrid were ruthless and efficient with theirs. That was the story of the game, and Barça had a mountain to climb in the final period.
Xavi Hernández made no changes at halftime despite the two-goal deficit and a few players not performing well, and the first 15 minutes of the second half were predictably bad and Barça were lucky not to be down 3-0 when Benzema had a goal disallowed for a narrow offside.
It took until the 60th minute for the coach to act, bringing Gavi, Jordi Alba and Ferran Torres off the bench. The changes worked and Barça looked more of a threat going forward, and they were really dangerous once Ansu Fati came on and injected more speed and imagination into the attack.
And it was Ansu who made a brilliant solo move down the left wing and found Ferran all alone at the far post to make it 2-1 and give Barça a chance heading into the final 10 minutes. But Eric García was called for a penalty on Rodrygo in the 90th minute, and the Brazilian winger scored from the spot to make it 3-1 and seal the win for the home team.
The final whistle came, and Madrid are top of the table again. Barça’s terrible week continues, and Xavi’s coaching once again comes into question. It’s a tough time to be a Barça fan again, and all the optimism from before the international break has quickly disappeared.
Real Madrid: Lunin; Carvajal (Rüdiger 88’), Militão, Alaba, Mendy; Modric (Camavinga 78’), Tchouameni, Kroos; Valverde, Benzema (Asensio 88’), Vinicius (Rodrygo 85’)
Goals: Benzema (12’), Valverde (35’), Rodrygo (pen 90+1’)
Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Roberto, Kounde, Eric, Balde (Alba 60’); De Jong, Busquets (Gavi 60’), Pedri (Kessie 83’); Raphinha (Ferran 60’), Lewandowski, Dembélé (Ansu Fati 73’)
Goal: Ferran (83’)